Aristotle Ethics: How Virtues Decide One’s Morals


After researching and looking so much into Aristotle and learning about his beliefs, I’ve become very interested in his belief that one person’s virtues may be what decides one’s morals or ethics. This idea he’s created could be what determines if a person is good or evil even though his concept of the word meaning is misunderstood. In the “Nicomachean Ethics,” he repeatedly states that Virtue is mean. You might be thinking that maybe one’s virtuous can’t be the leading point in one’s decisions or habits; let me argue that idea with something else that Aristotle once said. “Virtue, therefore, manifests itself in action. More explicitly, an action counts as virtuous.” When a person’s actions count as virtuous, the equilibrium of one’s soul is what decides a person’s character or a person’s own beliefs and habits. Aristotle himself stated that “For the way our lives turn out, it makes no small difference to be habituated this way or that way straight from childhood, but an enormous difference, or rather all the difference.” Throughout this essay, I will explain Aristotle’s own beliefs and that everybody’s virtues and habits are what decides a person’s morals and how these can affect whether a person is good or evil based on Virtue.

Our interpretations of Aristotle’s ethics come from the result of imprecise ancient Greek text translations. He uses the word he is to describe his meaning of moral value. However, hexis is an active condition, rather than being meant as passive habituation, but an active condition—the state in which something is required to hold onto itself actively. As I stated before, Aristotle’s definition of the word means is very often misinterpreted. To him, Virtue is a mean; it is a state of clarification and apprehension that explains just how the pleasures and pains allow one to judge what seems most pleasant or painful. According to Aristotle, achieving good character is a way for one to clear away the obstacles that stand in the way of the full efficiency of one’s soul.

Aristotle is not the only person that believes in taking the virtues to be central to a well-lived life. Socrates and Plato also had these beliefs along with him. A belief that both Aristotle and Plato share is that ethical virtues such as justice and courage are complex social, rational, and emotional skills. However, Aristotle does reject Plato’s theory that in order for one to be completely virtuous, one must acquire through science, philosophy, and mathematical training is a complete understanding of what true goodness is. He believes that for us to live well, all we need is a proper appreciation of how such goods as friendship, Virtue, honor, and wealth fit in together as one whole. I completely agree with this statement. To accept me and my virtues, I would want not to be lonely, appreciate wealth, and have honor in my actions rather than train myself to accept my virtues and habits. We can only acquire through practice; however, the deliberative and emotional skills that enable us to put our general understanding of well-being into practice in ways that suit every occasion.

I have noticed that a common argument against these beliefs of Aristotle’s is what is known as the “Human Good and the Function Argument.” Aristotle’s idea is that there are differences of opinions about what is best for humans. In order for people to profit from ethical inquiry, we must resolve this disagreement. According to one of his beliefs, “No one tries to live well for the sake of some further goal. Rather being eudaemon (meaning happy or happiness) is the highest end, and in all subordinate goals-health, wealth, and other such resources- are sought because they promote well-being, not because they are what well-being consists in. But unless we can determine which good or goods happiness consists in, it is of little use to acknowledge that it is the highest end.” To resolve the issue, Aristotle asked what the ergon, meaning the function of a human being is. This question, he asks, argues that it consists of the rational part of the soul in agreement with Virtue. An important piece of this argument consists of the distinctions he makes in his psychological and biological works. Aristotle believes that humans are the only beings on the planet that has not only souls that are analyzed into a connected series of capacities: the nutritive soul which is responsible for growth and reproduction, the locomotive soul for motion, and the wise soul for perception, but he also believes that there is a rational soul as well. He states, “The good of a human being must have something to do with being human; and what sets humanity off from other species, giving us the potential to live a better life, is our capacity to guide ourselves by using reason. If we use reason well, we live well as human beings or to be more precise, using reason well throughout a full life is what happiness consists of.” He believes that doing anything well requires Virtue or excellence. Therefore, living well also consists of activities caused by the rational soul under Virtue or excellence.

I believe that his idea is not very far off from what I believe the common idea is. He believes that a traditional conception of happiness identifies it with Virtue. I believe that Aristotle’s theory should be used as a refinement to whether or not Virtue can control people’s habits. Aristotle stated, “Not that happiness is Virtue, but that it is virtuous activity. Living well consists in doing something, not just being in a certain state or condition. It consists in those lifelong activities that actualize the virtues of the rational part of the soul.” He makes it clear that to be happy; everyone must possess other goods as well. This means having goods of friends, wealth, and power. One’s happiness could be endangered if one lacks in certain advantages. In this paper, my final statement is that we must think that does it makes a difference to happiness, whether one has or lacks these types of goods? To this, Aristotle replied, “One’s virtuous activity will be to some extent diminished or defective, if one lacks an adequate supply of other goods. Someone who is friendless, childless, powerless, weak, and ugly will simply not be able to find many opportunities for virtuous activity over a long period, and what little he can accomplish will not be of great merit.

To some extent, then, living well requires good fortune happenstance can occur rothe most excellent human beings of happiness.” Here in this statement, Aristotle insists that the most virtuous activity is not something that comes to us just by great chance. While we can be fortunate enough to have parents and fellow citizens who can help us become virtuous, we share much of the responsibility for acquiring and exercising the virtues. In conclusion, I agree with Aristotle’s beliefs that a person’s virtues or habits determine if they are good or evil.

izzah ahmed

This is Izzah, a content writer and editor who creates SEO-friendly content and has experience in academic writing. Backed by 10 years of experience in writing and editing, she is equipped with the skill to create content that is backed by thorough research and has impeccable structure.

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